Thursday, July 24, 2008

Welsh in Cwmteuddwr Parish 1901

According to Professor Geraint Jenkins' Introduction to Language and Community in the Nineteenth Century a volume in the series A Social History of the Welsh Language, of which the Professor is the General Editor: "the sparsely populated county of Radnorshire had lost its native tongue by the early nineteenth century." Here's a little tip Professor, check out the 1901 Census figures for Cwmteuddwr parish.

Infact the 1901 Census figures show 4% of the population of the parish speaking only Welsh, 70% speaking only English and 26% speaking both languages. Of course these figures are distorted by the presence of large numbers of workmen employed on the Elan Valley schemes. This has inflated the number of Welsh monoglots, but, at the same time, has also inflated the figure speaking only English. If we look only at those individuals actually born within the parish itself, a different picture emerges. Now we find that 36% of the Cwmteuddwr born residents are shown as Welsh speaking. In the over 60 age group the figure is 80% and even in the 20-40 age range 49% are still being recorded as Welsh speaking. Only in those aged under 10 does the figure able to speak Welsh fall below 10%.

What we have here is a process of language shift, a generation or so more advanced than that seen in Llanafanfawr. What is incontrovertible is that the viewpoint expressed by the academics that Welsh had disappeared from Radnorshire by the early nineteenth century is wrong, and that the story of the decline of the Welsh language in the county must be told parish by parish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article KJJ. I remember my grandmother (b1900 Cwmteuddwr)saying her grandmother was monoglot Welsh. Where do these academics do their research!